Church of Saints Simon and Helen, also known as the Red Church, is a neo-Romanesque church designed by polish architects Tomasz Pajzderski and Władysław Marconi. It was built between 1905-1910. The bricks for its walls were sourced from Częstochowa, whilst the roof tiles came from Włocławek. Its construction was financed by Edward Woyniłłowicz, a prominent Belarusian civic activist. The church was named and consecrated in memory of Woyniłłowicz's deceased children, Szymon and Helena.
In 1903, about 2,000 Minsk's Catholics wrote a petition to local authorities asking for a site to start building new catholic church. This request was satisfied, and construction started in 1905. The church was consecrated on September 20, 1910. On December 21, 1910, the church was opened.
In 1923, the church was robbed by the Red Army and in 1932 it was closed down by the Soviet authorities and transferred to the State Polish Theatre of the BSSR. Before the Second World War, the church was rebuilt into a cinema.
In 1941, the German occupation administration returned to building to its original use as a church, but after the war it was again used as a cinema, called the 'Soviet Belarus.'
In 1990, the building was returned to the Catholic Church. Since then it was renovated, and became an important centre of religious, cultural and social life. It also became a centre for the revived Belarusian Greek Catholic Church.
In 2006, Edward Woyniłowicz, the church's donator who died in 1928 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, was reburied here.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.